How can an artist prioritize their intentions

Highlights of the collection

Oil on canvas, 200.3 x 160.8 cm

Donated by the Friends of the Kunsthalle e.V., 1994

The quality of his art has the highest priority for this painter. It is known that he has destroyed over 100 of his pictures in the past because they should not have met his own standards. Gerhard Richter (* 1932 in Dresden, lives and works in Cologne) is at the same time the best-paid contemporary artist in Germany and his own harshest critic. It is incomprehensible to the cautious and media-shy artist that his works fetch millions in auction houses.

“Abstract Image” from 1988 is an example of Richter's large-format color explosions, which have achieved almost iconic status in the international art scene: Borkig tears open the painting material and lets what lies beneath it shimmer through. Light gray lies in flakes over yellow and green, which is pushed forward in the lower part of the picture, red and blue accents flash through at the edges of the picture, individual areas light up in neon tones. The longer you look at the picture, the more unclear it becomes which color dominates. What's in the background? What is pushing forward? It will be impossible for the viewer to tell which was the first coat of paint and which was the last. In the process of perceiving these infinite levels, even representational associations - like shadowy landscapes - appear for a fleeting moment before they vanish again.

Color plays the central role here, but in two very different ways - namely both visually ('color') and materially ('paint'). Richter uses huge squeegees to distribute the applied paint on the canvas in a vertical, sometimes horizontal direction, scratch it away again (one of the technical processes known as 'décollage') and create new structures and levels. With this repetitive process, a complex and fascinating play of colors is created layer by layer. Chance plays a crucial role in the creative process, as the painter himself admits. Often the final versions of his work contradict the initial intentions.

Anyone familiar with Gerhard Richter's oeuvre knows that the artist does not limit himself to (non-representational) painting. Like almost no other, he evades all classification through the constant change and change of styles, methods and means of expression in painting, but it is precisely this discontinuity that has become his trademark. In the end, it is his “Abstract Pictures” that led to his international and commercial success. Due to the media attention that these works received in the past, they are only perceived as objects of prestige in many places. Behind this, the actual intentions of the artist are often lost: Richter's art is again and again the experimental examination of the representation of reality, the questioning of reality staged by various painterly media.

"Abstract image", which was added to the collection as early as 1994 through the purchase of the Friends of the Kunsthalle e.V., is more than just a status symbol. It is primarily a suitable addition to the field of contemporary art, as well as an interesting extension to include an additional individual item within abstract painting. Exceptional items, such as those by Richter, only appear sporadically in the collection, but they are always harmoniously integrated into the overall structure.